Wrestling in the crate

Our boy Charlie (now 16 months old) has been getting to know his baby sister Lexi (now 4 months old) for the past month and a half. In general, all is going well. Though he can get grumpy and short with her, he can also be very gentle and 'motherly' with her, too. The past week, I've noticed that they sometimes take their wrestling sessions into her crate… picture Lexi on her back, wriggling and pounding her little paws into big brother Charlie... Charlie snarling and bearing down. I'm not concerned when they're doing this on the rug or out in the yard, but I wonder if her crate should be her safe zone, where she can go to get away from Charlie if she wants. Should I intervene, or just let them sort it out?

I would also be interested in the info the forum has to share…
I don't crate, but this issue has come up in rescue, so I need to learn...

@Puji:

Our boy Charlie (now 16 months old) has been getting to know his baby sister Lexi (now 4 months old) for the past month and a half. In general, all is going well. Though he can get grumpy and short with her, he can also be very gentle and 'motherly' with her, too. The past week, I've noticed that they sometimes take their wrestling sessions into her crate… picture Lexi on her back, wriggling and pounding her little paws into big brother Charlie... Charlie snarling and bearing down. I'm not concerned when they're doing this on the rug or out in the yard, but I wonder if her crate should be her safe zone, where she can go to get away from Charlie if she wants. Should I intervene, or just let them sort it out?

Her crate should for sure (IMO) be her safe place…

As a general rule, I don't crate dogs together. There are some instances where it can be a saving grace (Jazzysmom?). And sometimes if we are going somewhere with all the dogs in the van I will double up for a short ride.

I am too worried that a serious fight might erupt with no one there to intervene.

In this case, it sounds like you are there, and the play is just happening in the crate? Unless it looks like Lexi wants to be getting away, I wouldn't worry about it…usually it is the adult dog that wants to get away. But it never hurts to keep the crate off limits until it is time to go in...kinda builds the mystery and suspense of the good stuff that happens in the crate. If you think that Charlie is being too rough, and she needs a break, then I would definitely intervene.

@Quercus:

As a general rule, I don't crate dogs together. There are some instances where it can be a saving grace (Jazzysmom?).

Yes, in the large wire crate togetherness saved our sanity. HOWEVER, when I tried putting them together in the smaller plastic crates, Jazzy was NOT happy and there was much bickering so I stopped.

@Quercus:

In this case, it sounds like you are there, and the play is just happening in the crate? Unless it looks like Lexi wants to be getting away, I wouldn't worry about it…

Yes, I'm around when they're out of their crates, and sometimes they take their play sessions into either his or her crate. They do each have their own crates, but sometimes Lexi wanders into his and vice versa throughout the day. I make sure they sleep and eat in their own crates though - Charlie can be too grumpy when he's tired or hungry, and I think a conflict would be very possible if they were to be in the same small space for eating/sleeping.

It's hard to tell if Lexi wants to get away from Charlie when they're wrestling in her crate. It looks like usual play, except she can't escape him. I suppose she'd scream or something if she were distressed…

I like the idea of keeping their crates closed while they're out and about in the house - building the mystery and special status of the crate, as you say. But that prevents them from seeking refuge in their own 'bedrooms'... not that they've done that so far, though...

Our dogs do wander in and out of each other crates. They will even lay down in the others crates. Having said that, I am of the opinion that each dogs individual crate should be their own safe place. I know our Boston uses hers as a place to retreat when she does not wish to be bothered by the Basenji or just senses she needs to be out of the way.

Roo our Basenji actually seems to respect that and will usually leave her be. Of course her crate is smaller so it would be difficult for both of them to be in it at once.

Jason

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